Mumbai - the definition of Culture Shock!

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Flag of India  , Maharashtra,
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Going to India is like having a matter how much you prepare, you are never quite sure what to expect! Our 15th country and we finally understand "Culture Shock"! We were up at 4am, 3 hours of sleep, and we boarded our plane to India. Not so bad...there were about 20 other identified tourists on our flight. We looked them up and down, made our observations, and decided....if they can make it in India, so can we! So, excited but exhausted, we arrived..."As per regulations in India, the aircraft will now be sprayed with a disinfectant spray that is approved by the World Health Organization. If you may be allergic, please cover your eyes, nose and mouth." WHAT??!! You are spraying me with some sort of chemical so that I can go INTO India?? Shouldn't we be disinfecting those who are "leaving" India?? lol. The spray burned my throat and made my eyes idea what they made us but now we are germ free...just in time for India!

As we are about to a world unimaginable...the pilot makes an announcement: "Anyone catching an international connection, please wait for an employee to guide you once you are inside the airport." So we get off, look around, and realize...we are LITERALLY the only non-Indians staying in Mumbai!!! No wonder the flight attendant was surprised when we asked for the immigration arrival cards during our flight! Oh geez...when will we learn??!!

So, leaving everyone else behind, we make our way through the corridors, into the immigration line. Passed through, no issues. Thinking...This isn't so bad. And then it happened...I was ready to buy the next ticket out and leave! The Mumbai airport is...let's just say...different! We find the baggage carousels, and just as we enter...the first thing we see...there's an old lady with her family sitting on the floor, directly in front of us. Oh no...she must have spilled her drink. The airport cleaning lady is yelling something at her...with an angry expression on her face. We get closer...and then it hit...umm...that's not a spilled drink!! It's a puddle of PEE!!! She peed right in the middle of the airport floor! How does that even happen??!!! No wonder the cleaning lady is mad...and she wasn't giving up either! We couldn't understand what was being said, but it didn't take long for the old lady to lean over...with her saree (that she was wearing) and wipe up the puddle of pee with her scarf!!!...that was still around her neck!! I couldn't believe what we just saw and I was ready to leave! Weaving in and out of people to get to our bags was an adventure...along with the sight of all of the crippled and disabled people (more than we've ever seen before!). It was sad...and scary! Another reason to be thankful for our medical care in Canada...I'll gladly pay my taxes.

It didn't end there. We caught a taxi (being charged double...which is normal in India for tourists), strapped our bags to the roof!, and made our way through the city to our hotel. An hour later, we arrived. The streets are full of homeless people, and our hotel is directly across from the Bombay Hospital, adding to the sick and injured that we've already seen. The seemed scary at first. Everything is old and run down, the beds have a dip in the middle, and the toilet is really only a half of a toilet! haha. The elevator is the first ever invented...step inside, close the iron gate, and hold on as you watch each floor go by...hoping that it's actually going to After the first night, we began to appreciate our hotel, for it is better than anything else we have seen...except the Taj. The room is huge, two rooms actually...we have a separate sitting room, it's clean, and it's quiet!

Mumbai is like the past...all the buildings are so old...and the architecture is beautiful! Unfortunately, they aren't all up you need to see past the dirty, falling apart pieces to see the beauty in them. The ones that are maintained are phenomenal...not what I expected in India! Our first destination...the Gateway of India. It turned out to be more of a photo shoot than a tourist attraction. A photo shoot of us!! The only country we have been to where the people didn't want to take photos with us, was Thailand. I've had at least one photo shoot in every other country!...India was crazy! No kidding...about 20 different people asked us to take photos with less than an hour! We should have they do if we want a photo of them...haha! The Gateway of India was quite crowded, and everytime we turned around, someone else wanted a photo. We were trying to not get overwhelmed, while watching our pockets, and trying not to sweat all over our new friends! Did I mention how hot it is here???!!! Some days, it gets close to 40 degrees!

So, we have to admit...8 months of traveling and we finally got ripped off...due to our own stupidity! There are tons of men selling these JUMBO balloons...strong balloons that you can have balloon fights with! Super cool. So we thought we'd buy some..for our family gatherings at home..heehee. We bought one package, then he says, give me 100 rupees more and I'll give you another package. Sweet! So we did...yup..dummies...haha. We take our balloons, super excited about our purchase...not caring that we paid way too much for them. About 10 steps further...another balloon seller comes up to us and says, "Why'd you buy the small balloons? I'll trade you for the big balloons". That's when we actually thought about it. We thought we were buying these JUMBO balloons, but the guy gave us packages of SMALL balloons! We didn't even think that he might have different sizes!! So we admitted, we got ripped off...oh's worth a laugh. So we paid a little more and traded one pack of small balloons for one pack of JUMBO balloons! Still happy to finally have our balloons!...until later in the day....

We continued walking around, checking out the vendors and the old buildings around the area. Lost, as usual, we come across a man selling balloons. He looks at us and says...seriously, this is what he said, "Why'd you buy the small balloons? I'll trade you for the big balloons". WHAT??!!! We DID buy the big ones..we're not falling for that again...we thought. And then he shows us the actual JUMBO balloons!! No way! Not only did we fall for it once...but they got us twice on it! Screw it...we're stuck with one small package and one medium much for the JUMBO ones. We walked away...can't believe we fell for it TWICE! That's not it...we found a Body Shop, where I bought some lotion. The girl sees the balloons and asks how much we paid. Embarrassed to admit how much we actually paid and that they tricked us with the sizes...I lied. I told her we paid 10% of what we actually paid. She gasped!...and couldn't believe how much we got ripped off...paying THAT much...and she even asked why we didn't buy the JUMBO balloons!!! LOL. Unbelievable. We got ripped off so badly, that even at 10% of what we paid...she said we could have had two packages of the JUMBO ones...the actual JUMBO ones. haha. I guess it was bound to happen. We'll laugh about it for years.
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